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Pfeffernuesse (Peppery Gingerbread)

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“These little spicy gingerbreads bring out the wonderful flavours of pepper, ginger, and anise. Soft inside and crunchy outside with a touch of lemon glaze. Pfeffernüsse contain much freshly ground pepper, but don’t reduce the amount, because the pepperiness makes the difference. In the past pepper was one of the most expensive spices and to use much pepper was a sign of wealth. Nowadays pepper is often used in advent and Christmas bakery throughout Europe. Pfeffernüsse are so easy to make, yet so tasty, and are a typical German christmas cookie.”
1hr 15mins
48 cookies

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Mix flour and baking soda and set aside.
  2. Bring butter, dark molasses, sugar, and spices in a pot to a boil and remove from heat.
  3. Add flour at once and stir in quickly.
  4. Let dough cool down. Then wrap into cling film and put into the fridge. Leave it there overnight.
  5. On the next day: The dough should be very firm. Halve it with a knife. Set one half aside for the moment. Divide the halved dough into 8 pieces. Each of the 8 pieces divide into 3 little pieces (they should have almost the size of nuts).
  6. First knead the little pieces of dough, so that they get a little waxier. Then roll them between your hands to form a little ball. Place them on a plate and put in the fridge. Do the same with the second half of the dough.
  7. Let the dough balls rest in the fridge for one hour.
  8. Meanwhile preheat oven (360 F, 180 C). Line out two baking trays with baking paper. Take the dough balls out of the fridge and put them on the baking tray.
  9. Put baking tray into the lower third of the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cookies will flatten a bit and should be golden. They are still soft.
  10. Put them on a cooling rack and let the them cool completely.
  11. While the first batch is baking do the same as described above with the second half of dough.
  12. Mix powdered sugar with as little lime juice as possible to form a glaze. The glaze should be pasty, so use as much lime juice you need to get this consistency. Decorate the Pfeffernüsse with the glaze. I use an icing bag with a very small opening to decorate the Pfeffernüsse with the pasty glaze.
  13. Store the Pfeffernüsse between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container. You can store them in a dry and not too warm place for about 4 weeks.
  14. NOTE: I use anise seeds and ground them freshly. The anise flavour will be more intense.
  15. Cooking time does not include time for cooling (overnight and additional 1 hour). Passive work (baking) time is for 1 baking tray.

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